Fandi Ahmad

Singapore Infopedia

by Chua, Alvin


Fandi Ahmad (b. 29 May 1962, Singapore– )1 is a former Singapore national footballer. Regarded as one of Singapore’s most successful footballers, Fandi played for clubs in Singapore, Indonesia, Holland and Malaysia before going on to coach teams in Singapore and Indonesia. A popular player, Fandi was noted for his humility, talent and love for the game.2

Early life
As a child, Fandi and his family lived in the hospital attendant’s quarters at Woodbridge Hospital where his father Ahmad Wartam worked. Ahmad was a former Singapore national goalkeeper in the 1960s. To help his father make ends meet, Fandi sold nasi lemak on the hospital grounds.3

Fandi attended Yio Chu Kang Primary School and showed a keen interest in football as a child, eventually persuading his reluctant father to take him to Malaysia Cup matches and training sessions.4

Although Fandi started off as a goalkeeper like his father, he switched to an attacking midfield position under the advice of his teacher when he played for Yio Chu Kang Primary. A teacher then recommended that he and four teammates join the Milo Soccer Scheme for talented young footballers but his first application was unsuccessful. Fandi’s parents divorced when he was 12 years old, and he moved to a kampong in Jalan Eunos with his grandparents.5

Fandi then studied at Serangoon Gardens Secondary School and trained with the Kaki Bukit Constituency Sports Club. The club coach, Rahim Yati, encouraged him to try for the Milo Soccer Scheme again, and this time Fandi was accepted. He continued his education at the Singapore Vocational Institute, where he earned a National Trade Certificate 3 qualification in 1979.6

Early football career
By the time he was 15, Fandi had become a regular for the Singapore Malays team. In 1977, Fandi was vice-captain of the Singapore Under-16 national team that won the Lion City Cup youth tournament, with a newspaper report dubbing him “schoolboy soccer sensation”.7 In 1978, he became captain of the team which retained the Lion City Cup.8 In August that year, Fandi was called up for a national training tour of Russia, becoming the youngest footballer to represent Singapore.9

In January 1979, Fandi made his Malaysia Cup debut at the National Stadium against Malacca.10 Two months later, he scored his first Malaysia Cup goal in Singapore’s 2-1 win over Trengganu.11 However, the season ended with Singapore losing 2-0 to Selangor in the final.12 The following season, coach Jita Singh made Fandi a striker following the retirement of forwards Dollah Kassim and Arshad Khamis.13 This time, Fandi scored Singapore’s winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Selangor, before enlisting for National Service in September 1980.14 In 1981, Fandi turned professional, and was named Footballer of the Year by the Football Association of Singapore.15

International career
Fandi’s talent drew attention from abroad. By April 1981, there was interest from top Malaysian teams as well as Swiss club Young Boys of Berne and Argentina’s Boca Juniors. In February 1982, Jaap Reinders, a scout for the famous Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, invited Fandi for a trial in Amsterdam. Impressed with Fandi’s performance during the three-week trial in July, Ajax offered him a three-year contract worth S$40,000 annually, but Indonesian club Niac Mitra countered with a higher offer of S$75,000.16

Fandi was inclined towards Ajax Amsterdam, but his family urged him to pick Niac Mitra instead. He eventually signed a one-year contract with the Indonesian club.17 While his stay there was a happy one, Fandi later acknowledged that not joining Ajax was the biggest mistake of his life.18

When his National Service ended, Fandi moved to Surabaya, Indonesia, in August 1982 to begin his football career with Niac Mitra. He had a successful stint there, scoring 13 goals in his first season as Niac Mitra won the Galatama League.19 In June 1983, he also helped Singapore to a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games silver medal.20

Fandi was negotiating a new offer from the Arab-Malaysia Bank from Malaysia when Dutch first division team FC Groningen offered him a contract in July 1983. He signed a one-year contract with the Dutch club,21 and became the first Singaporean player to play and score in a European cup competition when he netted the second goal in Groningen’s 2-0 win over Inter Milan in October 1983. At the end of his first season in Holland, he had scored 10 goals in 29 games, and was voted the most popular and most valuable player by Groningen fans in 1984.22

In 1984, Fandi renewed his contract with Groningen, but his second season with the club was not a happy one due to injuries, loss of form and a poor working relationship with the coach.23 His contract was not renewed for another season, and Fandi left Groningen in early 1985.24 Despite the brevity of his stay there, Fandi is still regarded fondly by Groningen fans.25 In 1994, Groningen invited Fandi to play for the club again, but he rejected the offer partly due to his age and partly due to his intention to help the Singapore team win the Malaysia Cup.26 In 1999, Fandi was voted into Groningen’s Hall of Fame as one of the club’s 25 best players. In 2003, he was named the club’s best XI for the 20th century.27

Return to the Malaysia Cup
After Fandi left Groningen in 1985, he returned to Southeast Asia and signed a two-year contract with the City Hall Sports Club of  Kuala Lumpur.28 His career in the Malaysian capital was a success, as he lifted the Malaysia Cup thrice in succession from 1987 to 1989.29

Outside the Malaysian League season, Fandi helped Singapore win silver medals in the 1983, 1985 and 1989 SEA Games.30 Fandi's final SEA Games appearance was in 1997 in Jakarta.31

In June 1990, Fandi signed a two-year contract with Greek division one champion OFI Crete, and left for Crete in July. However, he failed to settle there and left the club after seven weeks.32 In 1991 he joined Malaysian side Pahang on a two-year, S$12,000-a-month contract,33 and helped Pahang win the Malaysian League and Cup in 1992. That year, newspaper reports dubbed Fandi Singapore’s first millionaire sportsman.34

Fandi returned to Singapore in 1993, and signed a two-year contract with the Football Association of Singapore.35 His goals led Singapore to the Malaysia Cup final that year, where they lost to Kedah.36 For captaining Singapore to the Malaysia League and Cup trophies, Fandi was awarded the Public Service Medal in August 1994.37 This was Singapore’s as well as Fandi’s final year of participation in the Malaysia League and Cup, as Singapore subsequently pulled out of the tournaments.38

Later career
In 1996, Fandi signed a five-year, S$1 million deal with sporting goods chain Royal Sporting House to become an ambassador for its products.39 He also signed for Geylang United in Singapore’s newly-formed professional football league, the S.League, and captained Geylang to the inaugural S.League title.40 That year, he also hosted a television series, Meniti Pelangi, for charity and released a music album, Anugerah, which sold about 10,000 copies.41

Besides endorsements and appearances, Fandi also undertook several other ventures off the field, mainly through his company Fandi Ahmad International, which he had set up in 1993. His business investments included a used car dealership and restaurants, but these were unsuccessful.42

In 1997, Fandi joined Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC), winning the S.League and Singapore Cup that year and the league title in 1998. He retired from the Singapore national team at the end of 1997.43 In December 1999, he became coach of SAFFC.44 He led the club to S.League titles in 2000 and 2002, and was voted Coach of the Year in 2000.45

In January 2003, Fandi became the national team’s assistant coach. His tenure with SAFCC also ended that year.46 In November 2006, Fandi signed on as head coach of Indonesian club Pelita Jaya.47 He left the club in early 2010 to take care of his wife, Wendy Jacobs, who was recovering from a fall.48 In December 2010, Fandi was appointed the Genova International Soccer School’s project manager for Asia,49 and in 2011, he became a scout for Italian football club Vicenza Serie B.50

In March 2011, Fandi set up the Fandi Ahmad Academy for young footballers.51 In the same month, he also launched a fitness book for kids titled Optimal Fitness: For Junior Champions Ages 7–17, which he co-authored with Rano Izhar Rahmat, a former bodybuilder and sports trainer.52 In May 2011, the Sembawang Soccer Academy was launched which appointed Fandi as its director of youth development.53

Parents: Ahmad Wartam and Semiah Ismail.
Siblings: Fazli (brother) and Faridah (sister).
Wife: Wendy Jacobs, former South African model (married in 1996).
Children: Irfan, Iksan, Iman, Ilhan and Iryan.

Alvin Chua

1. Ida Bachtiar, “Fandi Fanfare,” Straits Times, 21 December 1992, 8. (From NewspaperSG)

2. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good,” Straits Times, 12 November 2006, 37. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “A Switch Puts Star Fandi in New Role,” Straits Times, 26 October 1994, 31 (From NewspaperSG); “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good”; Jose Raymond, “A Superstar’s Sacred Ground,” Today, 27 June 2007,  44. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Wilfred Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story (Singapore: Brit Aspen Pub., 1993), 9, 15. (Call no. RSING 796.334092 YEO)
5. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 14, 16–17.
6. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 19–20.
7. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 20–21; Wilfred Yeo, “Fandi: A Future More Illustrious Than Zainal’s,” Straits Times, 16 August 1978, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 20.
9. Joe Dorai, “Fandi, Koh Shine On Russia Tour,” Straits Times, 25 August 1978, 29 (From NewspaperSG); Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 7, 23.
10. Joe Dorai, “Discipline – Fandi’s Second Name,” Straits Times, 9 January 1979, 25. (From NewspaperSG)
11. J. Low, “2-Goal Brilliance,” New Nation, 12 March 1979, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Jeffrey Low, “Disputed Goal Gives Selangor Cup,” New Nation, 17 June 1979, 32. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 26.

14. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good”; Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 31.
15. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
16. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 36–37, 46..
17. Joe Dorai, “Why Fandi Took Up the $75,000 Offer,” Straits Times, 26 August 1982, 37. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Joe Dorai, “From Office Boy to Pin-Up Boy – But There Are More Goals Yet for Fandi,” Straits Times, 30 May 1994, 30. (From NewspaperSG); N. Edwards, “Top Singapore Soccer Star Espouses Humility,” Reuters News, 17 May 1998. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website) 
19. Yeo, The Fandi Ahmad Story, 49.
20. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
21. “Fandi Goes Dutch,” Straits Times, 11 July 1983, 39; Kenneth Jalleh, “Inside Story,” Singapore Monitor, 19 July 1983, 31. (From NewspaperSG)
22. Terrence Voon, “Fandi's European Exploits,” Straits Times, 13 July 2008, 44 (From NewspaperSG); “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
23. Peter Khoo, “Fandi Signs for Greek Club OFI,” Straits Times, 16 June 1990, 37; Peter Siow, “Why Fandi Must Leave,” Straits Times, 31 January 1985, 43. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Groningen: It’s all Over, Fandi,” Straits Times, 10 February 1985, 28. (From NewspaperSG)
25. “Fandi's European Exploits.”
26. “Fandi Turns Down Offer to Re-Join Groningen,” Straits Times, 7 July 1994, 31. (From NewspaperSG)
27. “Fandi's European Exploits.”
28. Joe Dorai, “Fandi Signs for City Hall,” Straits Times, 25 August 1985, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
29. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
30. Chan TSe Chueen, “Seven To Be Inducted Into Hall of Fame,” Straits Times, 28 December 2001, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
31. S. Gulam, “Fandi Ahmad: If You Say So, I'll Go…,” New Paper, 25 February 1997, 37. (From NewspaperSG)
32. Khoo, “Fandi Signs for Greek Club OFI”; Wilfred Yeo, “Fandi Owns Up, Pays $51,000 for Release,” Straits Times, 12 October 1990, 38. (From NewspaperSG)
33. Joe Dorai, “From Office Boy To Pin-Up Boy – But There Are More Goals Yet for Fandi,” Straits Times, 30 May 1994, 30. (From NewspaperSG)
34. Bachtiar, “Fandi Fanfare.” 
35. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
36. “Lions Had the Latent-but Lacked Tenacity and Tactics,” Straits Times, 5 December 1993, 39. (From NewspaperSG)
37. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
38. “Sponsors: We Will Continue To Fund Local Soccer,” Straits Times, 23 February 1995, 31; Shahiron Sahari, “Short-Term Pain but Long-Term Gain,” Business Times, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
39. Wang Meng Meng, “Super Striker, Poor Salesman,” New Paper, 1 July 2007, 49. (From NewspaperSG)
40. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
41. Bernard Pereira, “Fund and Show,” New Paper, 3 July 1997, 10; Rachel Lim, “Fandi Tackles Success and Moments To Cherish in Album,” Straits Times, 21 May 1996, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
42. Wang, “Super Striker, Poor Salesman.” 
43. “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”
44. Neil Humphreys, “Fandi Is Now Warriors’ Coach,” Straits Times, 4 December 1999, 110. (From NewspaperSG)
45. Jose Raymond, “He’s Packing His Bags, Again,” Today, 6 November 2006, 40; Stanley Ho, “Blazing a New Trail,” Today, 9 April 2003, 31. (From NewspaperSG)
46. Chia Han Keong, “Fandi’s SAFFC Tenure Ends,” Straits Times, 21 October 2003, 33; Marc Lim, “Poulsen Quits; Fandi Is Assistant Coach,” Straits Times, 7 January 2003, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
47. Leonard Lim, “Kadir To Join Fandi at Indonesia’s Pelita,” Straits Times, 5 January 2007, 44; Raymond, “He’s Packing His Bags, Again.” 
48. S. Murali, “Give Up My Career for My Kids? Well…,” New Paper, 17 October 2010, 23. (From NewspaperSG)
49. Sazali Abdul Aziz, “Soccer Saga,” New Paper, 14 October 2011, 2–3. (From NewspaperSG)
50. “Football: Overseas Exposure Good for Singapore Footballers, Says Fandi,” Channel NewsAsia, 9 March 2011. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
51. David Lee, “Wendy’s IIlness,” New Paper, 11 February 2013, 2–3David Lee “F-17's Aim: Scholarships for Youth Footballers,” New Paper, 29 September 2013, 47. (From NewspaperSG)
52. “Football: Overseas Exposure Good for Singapore Footballers, Says Fandi”; Fandi Ahmad and Rano Izhar Rahmat, Optimal Fitness: For Junior Champions, Ages 7–17. (Singapore: [s.n.], 2011). (Call no. RSING 613.7180835 FAN)
53. Abdul Aziz, “Soccer Saga.” 
54. Norenshah Sahari, “Football – for Kicking, Oversleeping – a Waste of Time,” New Paper, 29 May 1996, 56 (From NewspaperSG); “Fandi Is Too Nice for His Own Good.”

Further resource
The Seventeen Connection: Fandi 17 (Singapore: Fandi Ahmad International, 1995). (Call no. RSING 796.33405 SC)

The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 





















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